The U.S. Dept. of Commerce announced that the Northwest’s biggest supporters of clean technology startups, Oregon BEST and CleanTech Alliance, have been awarded an i6 Challenge grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to strengthen and broaden the Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator, a partnership between the two organizations that supports clean technology startups in the region. T
he $499,972 grant, awarded through the EDA's Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program, will enable the two organizations to expand the accelerator program’s curriculum.
Bringing new cleantech innovations to market differs from other technology types because typical customers include utilities, municipalities and industries that are highly regulated, risk-averse and demand proof-of-concept before trying a new technology or product.
"Very few startups receive adequate funding and support to pursue, deploy and complete comprehensive proof-of-concept projects," said David Kenney, President and Executive Director of Oregon BEST. "This new funding will allow us to build on our successful model for supporting proof-of-concept and prototyping of cleantech projects and to expand our unique curriculum that prepares companies in the accelerator for a greater chance of follow-on seed investment."
What differentiates the curriculum used at the 2-year-old Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator from other accelerators is an emphasis on cleantech manufacturing of hard goods, business and technology sustainability, and a "funding bootcamp" that prepares and positions startups to pursue cleantech-friendly funding pathways.
"The northwest region is a hotbed of clean technology innovation," said J. Thomas Ranken, President and CEO of CleanTech Alliance. "Moving that innovation from the laboratory to market is tremendously difficult. The Cascadia CleanTech Accelerator program taps into the support networks across the CleanTech Alliance and Oregon BEST, delivering critical mentors, support and connections to speed innovation to market."
The prototype and proof-of-concept work at the accelerator will be done in conjunction with researchers at partner universities in both Oregon and Washington.
"This new funding is terrific external validation for the work we've been doing here in Oregon, and we're very excited about expanding our support activities to bring even greater value to our Pacific Northwest region and spark more synergy – helping fuel the global economy," Kenney said.
Oregon BEST was one of 42 organizations in 28 U.S. states selected from more than 200 applicants to share a total of $17 million in EDA funding announced by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.